Friday, August 31, 2012

Shock therapy to avoid scams l Newsvine

Shock therapy to avoid scams l Newsvine

The annual list of the top 10 consumer complaints is out, and it features familiar scams. Once again, the report is a good reminder to be careful. Some of the scams have become more sophisticated, with more high-tech ways of stealing your money. Topping the list are auto complaints, including misrepresentations in advertising or sales, faulty repairs, and leasing and towing disputes. In second place are complaints about credit and debt. The category includes mortgage modifications and mortgage-related fraud, credit-repair schemes, debt-relief services, predatory lending, and illegal or abusive debt-collection tactics. The five fastest-growing complaints are about fraud, debt-collection abuses, do-not-call violations, mortgage-related issues, and problems that people have had with both legitimate and sham home-improvement companies. New to the list this year are real-estate-related complaints. Hard times have left many people wanting to dump their timeshares, or at least get out from under yearly maintenance fees they can no longer afford. This desperation on the part of timeshare owners has been a boon to schemers. In one such swindle, “timeshare resellers” tell folks they can help them unload their unwanted properties and ask for an upfront fee for the service. I’m sure you can guess what happens. No buyers are found, no help is really offered and people are out of their money, stuck with a timeshare they can’t afford. But then another timeshare crook swoops in to add insult to financial injury. Timeshare recovery companies offer to help owners get back the funds lost to resellers. They ask for an upfront fee. It’s a double financial whack because this, too, turns out to be a scam.

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